Mads Mikkelsen Doesn’t Believe in Method Acting: ‘It’s Bullsh*t’

The "Fantastic Beasts" star doesn't believe method acting makes a significant difference, and blames the media for over-glamorizing it.
Mads Mikkelsen
Mads Mikkelsen
Horst Galuschka/AP Images

Whether it’s Benedict Cumberbatch giving himself nicotine poisoning to prepare for “The Power of the Dog,” Lady Gaga hiring an on-set psychiatrist for “House of Gucci,” or Jared Leto taking 45-minute bathroom breaks in character as Morbius, method acting is huge right now. Actors love to detail their intense preparation for roles as a way to generate buzz and ticket sales, and awards voters often reward the work that goes into those performances.

One person who’s not impressed? Mads Mikkelsen, who stars as Grindelwald in “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore,” taking over the role that Johnny Depp was forced to vacate. In an interview with GQ UK to promote the film, Mikkelsen says he does not use method acting and does not understand the hype. His response? “It’s bullshit.”

“You can take [the preparation] into insanity,” Mikkelsen said. “What if it’s a shit film — what do you think you achieved? Am I impressed that you didn’t drop character? You should have dropped it from the beginning! How do you prepare for a serial killer? You gonna spend two years checking it out?”

The actor, who will next be seen in next summer’s “Indiana Jones 5,” went on to mock actors who attempt to stay in character for period pieces, despite the fact that they inevitably run into anachronisms. “‘I’m having a cigarette? This is from 2020, it’s not from 1870 — can you live with it?’” he joked. “It’s just pretentious.”

While Mikkelsen personally does not practice method acting, that doesn’t mean he can’t respect the work of famous method actors. He simply credits their performances to their talent and direction, rather than staying in character. “Daniel Day-Lewis is a great actor,” he said. “But it’s got nothing to do with this.”

“I would have the time of my life, just breaking down the character constantly,” Mikkelsen said of the chance to work alongside someone as method-oriented as Daniel Day-Lewis, who rarely leaves character during a production.

Mikkelsen also does not blame method actors as much as he blames the media for giving them so much attention, creating an incentive structure for more people to try it.

“The media goes, ‘Oh my god, he took it so seriously, therefore he must be fantastic; let’s give him an award.'” he said. “Then that’s the talk, and everybody knows about it, and it becomes a thing.”

“Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” opens in the U.S. on April 15.
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